Piaggio Sues China’s Vespa Copycats

For years the Piaggio group have been trying to stop Chinese scooter copycats who have managed to produce almost look-a-like Vespa scooters which are cheaper and quicker. These China copycat scooters are even sold outside of China in neighbouring countries, thus preventing Piaggio from making effective sales.

Now comes great news after years of legal battles where the Italian based Piaggio group has finally won the copyright case against a China made copy of their Vespa scooters.

As far back as 2010, Piaggio had issues with China based scooter manufacturer Zhejiang Zhongneng for making copies of the Vespa LX scooter.

China made Vespa scooter copy China made Vespa scooter copy China made Vespa scooter copy

In 2010, the Chinese company Zhejiang Zhongneng Industry Group obtained from the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) the registration of the following Community design (‘the Zhejiang scooter’):

In 2014, Piaggio & C. filed an application with EUIPO for a declaration of invalidity of that design, claiming that it lacked novelty and individual character with respect to the design ‘Vespa LX’ which was first made available in 2005 and incorporating the lines and shape characteristics of the famous motorcycle (‘the Vespa’), an icon of Italian design since 1945. Piaggio also argued that the Vespa LX scooter was protected in Italy as an unregistered three-dimensional trademark and in France and Italy as a copyrighted intellectual work.

Vespa classic scooter


The Piaggio Group has announced it has won the backing of the European Union Intellectual Property Office in its fight against the production of what it believes to be a Chinese-made copycat design of its Vespa Primavera.

The Italian company has long fought against companies using the iconic design of the Vespa as a base for its models, with the practice proving particularly rife in the Chinese market.

Matters came to a head during the 2019 EICMA show in Milan when a ‘design registered by a Chinese party’ was removed from the exhibition following a complaint lodged by Piaggio.

Though the company has had middling success when it comes to preventing these facsimile models from reaching the market, the backing from the EU marks a boost for the Italian firm in its fight.

According to the EUIPO invalidity division, it said it was annulling the unnamed model’s registration since it was ‘incapable of eliciting a different general impression with respect to the registered design” of the Vespa Primavera, and pointed out that the registration was an unlawful attempt to reproduce the scooter’s aesthetic elements’.

However, the ruling will likely only mean the model in question will not be permitted for sale in Europe.

Piaggio has been particularly sensitive to the Vespa’s trademarks over the years, launching numerous activities to prevent counterfeiting. The company claims to regularly monitor databases of internationally registered designs and trademarks and has so far managed to cancel ‘more than 50 trademarks registered by third parties in the last two years’

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